EMINEM: “IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE THE BEST, THEN WHY ARE YOU RAPPING?”
Eminem’s new album, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2’ is due November 5th, in these outtakes from the upcoming Rolling Stone cover story, (out November 22nd), he talks about the recording process, going blonde, his wicked sense of humor and much more.
Are you feeling good about the album at this point?
Um, that’s a tough question, man. For the most part, yeah. But I don’t know if I ever feel totally great about a record when I put it out. With every record that I put out, someone has literally got to come pry it from me because when I listen to my own music, I just hear flaws in it. Like I hear ‘Oh fuck!
I could have done this better or that better!’ And I’ll work it to death. Obviously if I wasn’t comfortable with it, I wouldn’t put it out. But from the beginning, ever since my career started, I don’t know if I’ve ever been totally like, this is completely it.So why did you dye your hair blonde again?
Um, I’ll say that one was [manager Paul Rosenberg’s] idea. In the earlier stages of the record and developing this shit I had thought about it. And once the songs started to come together and the picture got a little more clear of what it was gonna be, he hit me with the idea and I was like “Yo, you know I thought about that, right?”
And he was like, “Well you know, why not?” And I was like “I don’t know how it’s gonna look. I haven’t had it in how many fucking years? Five, six years.” I was like, “I’m so used to it being dark,” you know. So I just tried it. And I was like “Fuck it.”
Having Kendrick Lamar on your album, did you have any concern that he might go in and try to upstage you?
I completely respect what Kendrick does and the fact that he’s in the same camp, that he’s on Aftermath, only made sense to me. He came to Detroit, we kicked it for a few minutes, you know, and I felt the vibe of what he’s like and everything, and you know, he’s a super cool and super humble dude. When we did that record, I think that was actually a week or two before he did the verse to “Control.”
Is there advice you would give him at this point?
I don’t know if he needs advice. He seems like he’s got a really good head on his shoulders, man. He’s very smart and you can tell by the way he put his album together for one. He’s like a hip-hop head, man, he just loves hip-hop. And obviously the way that he did the “Control” verse, it was almost like if you get mad at him, then you might look foolish. He set it up so that you can’t really get mad at a lot of that shit he said because it was what every other MC is already thinking. Or you should be thinking.
Fundamentally, do you feel like a rap god or do you feel like an underdog?
I think everything switches back and forth from hour to hour, day by day with me. That whole “Rap God” record pretty much from top to bottom is tongue in cheek. So I mean, do I want to feel like that? Maybe sometimes. Again, it goes back to everybody who competitive raps and does this for just purely the sport of it wants to be the best. Again, that’s why Kendrick’s verse worked so well because he only said what every rapper’s already thinking, If you don’t want to be the best, then why are you rapping?
By Brian Hiatt / rollingstone.com